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Scarlet Woman: The True Story of Mary Magdalene


Why - and how - did one woman provide inspiration to so many artists?

Mary Magdalene is a familiar presence in modern culture. We’ve read about it in the Da Vinci Code. We’ve heard about it in Jesus Christ Superstar. We think we know it well. But, actually, we don’t know it at all. Because it’s all a fantasy. For a thousand years, artists have been telling her tale. But the entire Mary Magdalene story is one of art's most tremulous myths. In the Bible, she warrants just four actual mentions. Yet Magdalene is everywhere in art. She's the most beautiful of the three Marys at the foot of the cross. She's the sinful stranger who washes Christ's feet with sweet smelling oils. And it wasn’t only artists who fell for her gorgeous charms; poets, composers, film directors and novelists have also succumbed. Her most notorious role, however, is as the loose woman - wild haired, sexy, dressed in red. It’s a fantasy that has prompted great art through the ages. And - uniquely among such art myths - it continues to grow. This extraordinary new film tells her story and how it inspired the likes of Giotto, Caravaggio, Titian, Cezanne and Van Gogh. In the end, perhaps the most remarkable thing about Mary Magdalene is that she appears in all this art, yet we still know so little about her. Instead, it probably tells us more about the artists who have painted her.



Programme Information

  • Genre: Arts

  • Subgenre: Factual

  • Producers: ZCZ FILMS LIMITED

  • Broadcaster: BBC 4

  • Duration: 1 x 60'

  • Tags: Waldemar Culture Art

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